Star Wars Marathon: Review: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002)

The Star Wars Marathon continues, and I have to tell you, if only Padmé had used that magic button of doom on her ship for more than star charts this whole crisis could have been averted!

Screenplay By: Jonathan Hales & George Lucas
Directed By: George Lucas

The one thing people need to know about my feelings on the Star Wars films is that I have been a staunch defender of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones since its release. While others ripped apart the love story I defended it as similar to so many idiotic couples that I had seen throughout the years. People griped about the Yoda fight scene and I reveled in finally seeing the little green man in action. In summation, while I liked parts of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, I liked almost all of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones.

I can hear the grumblings already, and believe me I understand them, there are certainly things in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones that bother me. Hayden Christensen does play Anakin Skywalker as a bit too on the whiny side, but then again I’ve known many a gifted youngster who came with his sense of entitlement and whiny side. I can’t defend how annoying C-3PO is from the droid factory to the arena, I mean, there’s corny and then there’s whatever the heck George Lucas was going for with 3PO’s god awful and on the nose dialogue. There’s also the aforementioned magic button on Padmé’s ship, and while a part of me wants to think that’s a nod to the serials Star Wars came from, more of me believes it’ a simple case of sloppy film making. The largest complaint I will bring against Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones is that many of the motivation moments within the story felt weak, mainly because the script or the music or the actors, take your pick, underplayed them too much. I don’t have much of a problem with the story, I actually like the story for reasons I will get into later, but I do have problems with the moments that help turn the story in this direction or that, they could have been handled much better.

There are a few story points, or moments, in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones that I feel need special addressing. First and foremost is the love story between Anakin and Padmé. I never quite understood why people got their undies in a twist over their love story and how, hmmm, I’m trying to think of the word I want, juvenile it is. I would ask these people if they’ve ever taken a look at their own relationships or paid attention to the relationships around them? I’m 28 years old and in all my time spent in the dating realm I have used lines far worse and heard lines used that were far worse than Anakin’s rough sand line. Their love story certainly isn’t the majestic and high brow love story that Hollywood typically churns out, but that’s probably why it worked for me and I was able to buy it. I know women who are looking for that whiny damaged boy with a bit of a bad side who they can try and fix, just like I know men who are looking for that unrealistic portrait of a woman they have created in their own head. It’s not the best romance you will ever find, but when you get down to the brass tacks of it there’s nothing wrong with the relationship between Anakin and Padmé.

Next on the review agenda, and if it feels like I’m going through a checklist then I apologize because not only am I not doing that but it wasn’t my intention for this review to take on that form, is the much ballyhooed debut of fighting Yoda. I have heard all the arguments against it, and my counter argument is simple, I hear what you’re saying but you’re wrong! No, seriously, I happen to disagree with most of the arguments I have heard against his debut as a spinning dervish of bad assery. First, the switch to a CG Yoda was not only necessary, but possibly the smartest thing Lucas has ever done in his entire career. But, that aside, I’m not the biggest Yoda fan, those who have read my other Star Wars writings know this. I’m, not a big fan of the philosophy he espouses and how he views the Force in such black and white terms, but mainly how he is so often wrong yet never acknowledges how wrong he is. Still, he is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Jedi, and for that reason I feel his fighting prowess needed to be seen. Because of the role the Jedi play in the galaxy they can’t just be sage wise men, well they can, but not if they are one of the most powerful of Jedi. It makes perfect sense that not only would Yoda be full of wisdom but also that he would be a great fighter, and the moment when he starts fighting in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones remains one of my all time favorite moments in the saga to this very day.

Once again, there are certain elements I don’t feel the need to cover in-depth, the CG work, the costumes, set design, sound work from Ben Burtt, and so on. There are certain things that Lucas and company do great no matter what, and I feel it would get redundant for me to write a treatise in every review on why the sound design was spectacular yet again this time around. But, I don’t want you to think that I miss how great the CG’d Clones look, or how interesting the Kamino settings are, and so on. I do, but I’m not a fan of redundancy and I’m especially not a fan of when I become redundant in my writing, even if I do realize that it happens far too regularly.

Just as a small aside, and this is mainly for my readers at The Domain Of Nihilus, I know by this point you’re wondering what happen to my usual musings on the more abstract or philosophical issues that I so love to talk about in most of my Star Wars reviews. What I’ve discovered as I’ve been reviewing the films is that as much as those issues are still present and I still sort of feel like talking about them, I immediately think of a book, comic or video game that handles the same issues and how that would be a much better opportunity to delve into said philosophical musings. Sure, I want to talk about how the Jedi use the Clones as nothing but slave labor and how that makes them abhorrent, but the Republic Commando series of books would be a better place for me to get into that. So, if you’re worried that I’m ditching that part of my reviews, fear not for all the issues I love to go on and on about will get their due, but in the Expanded Universe material and not the films.

Jeez, I’m over a thousand words into this review and while I’ve given little droppings as to what I liked about Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones, I have yet to give you my feelings on the larger picture and why I really like this film. For me it all boils down to the style of presentation, I like that so much witty banter has been added into the mix, I like that Lucas once again found his sense of humor, C-3PO be damned. I love that Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones has a very pulp action feel to it, from the chase scene through Coruscant to the fight on Kamino, I found myself loving every second of how the action in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones was mixed into the story, the beats the story took and the grandeur that I felt the story gave off. Maybe that’s not enough of an explanation for you, but just like the old pulps that Star Wars sprang from, I loved that the strings holding Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones together were so tenuous and felt like they could snap at any time, but they never did.

I think it’s safe to say that I have prattled on for far too long by this point, and anyone who reads all of what I wrote here is a saint, a saint I tells ya. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones marks a decided move upward in the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, but this is the film that righted the ship so to speak and made me believe again in what Lucas was doing with the franchise (I have no doubt that all of you are getting a good chuckle out of that last sentence, what with my intense anti-Lucas feelings and all). Whether it is the love story, the visuals of Kamino, the arrival of the Clones, or Obi-Wan’s investigations into the unknown I am always caught up in the creative endeavor known as Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones every time I watch it. I wonder if Edgar will feel the same way, or if I will remain an island unto myself with my Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones love?

You can check out Edgar’s half of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones over at Between The Seats.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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5 responses to “Star Wars Marathon: Review: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002)

  1. Bill, I would hate to get chatted up by you, and I mean that in the nicest possible way…
    still, I do agree with some of your points, even though AOTC is for the most part, a pile of muck.
    youre right about Yoda, him pulling that lightsaber out was pretty much the best bit in that movie, apart from the opening night chase sequence, which is as good as anything in the second trilogy.
    there are lots of problems with this movie but the killer one – and it moves into the third film too – is that Lucas doesnt bother exploring the Anakin/Obi-wan arc. their relationship should be the focus of the entire second set of movies, all lucas does is keep them apart. meaning when McGregor delivers that stupid line ‘You were my brother!’ after hes hacked his er, brother’s legs off, you just dont believe in it.

  2. I’m a great chatter upper, at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I remain single. 🙂

    I hear you on that last part, but I think their relationship was hinted at enough through dialogue, in the OT and PT, that by the third film I believed every second of Obi’s speech. Of course that may also be some of my EU ventures speaking, who knows.

  3. edgar chaput

    Well, I admit that your defence of the Anakin/Padmé love story is admirable. I still won’t entirely get behind it. I find their is a dramatic shift in the acting when the two start to pour their hearts out, and I don’t mean a shift for the better. There’s something awkward about it, and not in the ‘young love birds awkward when around each other’ kind of way, more as though they honestly were not sure how to play the scenes.

    Ha, I don’t even mention C-3PO in my review, he’s such an afterthought in this movie. His lines aren’t very good, I agree with you on that. Why on earth does he suddenly yell ‘Die Jedi!’ ?

    I think were on the same page regarding the scale of the film. I feels big and that a lot is at stake. This helps the movie a lot.

  4. I have mixed reviews towards this film. I didn’t like the Padme/Anakin love story largely due to Hayden Christensen’s bad acting and the dialogue that he and Natalie Portman were given. I didn’t like the lines that C-3PO got either.

    Yet, I did like the stuff involving Obi-Wan and his search for the Clones, Jango Fett, and the battle itself.

    My favorite part is Yoda. Oh man, did I get fan-boy in seeing Yoda show his awesomeness. And that lightsaber battle, whoa. Yoda really won me over. He was the highlight of the film for me. Yoda.

  5. Edgar – We’ll agree to disagree mainly, but that’s what we do best.

    Void – I think for most fans seeing Yoda finally fight was a big moment.

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